There were three things that Lois Lane knew well. Two of these things she had learned growing up in the Army, part of General Lane's baggage as they moved from base to base. One – no one ever told the complete truth, ever, even if their life depended on it. Two – everyone had something to hide, everyone. Even Perry White, who liked to pretend no one noticed that he had a crush on Martha Kent as well as a prescription for nicotine patches to get past the cigar habit he had. The third thing Lois had learned after leaving the Inquisitor and found herself in the world of real journalism. A story, the real story, sometimes lurked in that grey area between the lies and the secrets, like two plus two equaling four.
Journalism, Lois thought, chewing on a pencil as she typed up the notes from her last interview, was really about focus. How a reporter focused would define how they approached their story. Cat Grant scooped the City Hall sex scandal story, ignoring Perry's cry of outrage when Lois passed on it. Cat could bring the sizzle, and the sensational headlines and she did, with every issue of the Daily Planet. It seemed to be part and parcel with the red hair and that cat-like prowl Cat possessed. Clark, Lois looked up at her friend's once again empty chair and sighed, could write the human angle of any story. Lois blamed his optimism and perverse need to defend everyone on growing up in Smallville, sheltered among his cornfields and small town ideals. It was Clark who told all of Metropolis the stories of the City Councilmen who were implicated in the scandal, showing them as family men who had made mistakes and were somehow deserving of some compassion, making them less sensational and more sympathetic. Between those two stories, was the truth. Lois found herself pushing for the truth constantly, struggling between her own inner nosiness and a growing sense of responsibility toward the public's need to know, using the written word to make things as right as she could. Her story, exposing the plot by Intergang to undermine Metropolis' City Council by framing those that blocked their corrupt bids and nearly getting herself killed by angry mobsters in the process was Lois' specialty. With Superman's help, of course. Superman. Now, there was a story. If only Lois could find her angle on it.
Jimmy's latest pictures of the Man of Steel sat on Lois' desk, nearly buried by clippings and scraps of paper Lois had scrawled information from sources on. She picked up the pictures and sifted through them. Superman was definitely one of those grey areas. Cat's smarmy little editorial about how sexy Superman was, coupled with Clark's complete lack of interest in the subject made Lois even more determined to get at the truth. Internet searches had yielded nothing – no reports of a man in blue and red repairing a dam that was ready to burst in Utah, saving a school bus full of kids from an avalanche in Colorado, or stopping some disaster in some other place, in the United States or anywhere else in the world. Nothing. Until he arrived in Metropolis, that is. Before that, it was as if Superman simply didn't exist. Which was impossible – tall, good looking, virtuous, amazingly strong men who could fly didn't just appear out of nowhere, did they? They had to come from someplace first. Everyone started out somewhere, graduated from high school, had dorky second grade pictures hidden in an attic or basement, right? Chloe wasn't much help; her West Coast contacts were just as silent when it came to info about Superman. As it was, Chloe was a bit too involved in being Mrs. Oliver Queen and reporting the exploits of the Green Arrow out in Star City to really be too much help with Superman, anyway.
Any news from the Gotham connections were all about Batman, a dark and almost sinister figure that haunted the Gotham City underworld, like a vengeful ghost. Lois shuddered, not even wanting to contemplate the deep, dark secret behind that guy. The Superman story was there, Lois could feel it, taunting her, even as she found herself almost speechless every time they were face to face. It was actually embarrassing. Lois Joanne Lane had never been at a loss for words in her life, until the day she'd found herself 40 stories off the ground, being flown back to the roof of the Daily Planet building in the arms of the blue eyed savior of Metropolis. Biting her tongue retroactively for her ridiculous outburst, "…who's got you?", Lois wished she could do that over again, say something witty and smart. Instead, she'd stammered nonsense and hid her face in his broad, red-cloaked shoulder. Her interview with him at the apartment she rented from Oliver and Chloe didn't go much better either, standing out on the terrace asking Superman what color panties she was wearing. It was a cheap Cat Grant question, and Lois blushed even as she saw Superman's cheeks deepen to a bright red in reply. However, he had answered honestly, as if compelled by some outside power, completely separate from the modesty that forced him to clear his throat first.
Which brought Lois back to the three things she knew for facts, knew as well as she knew her own reflection in the mirror. Superman himself said he never lied. Ever. And Lois, human lie detector that she was, believed him. It was improbable, and probably impossible, but Lois believed him anyway. Which gave immediate proof to the contrary of Lois' lifelong belief that everyone lied. If Superman didn't lie, that is. Did he have something to hide? Lois thought about it, making deep dents in the pencil she was gnawing on. He said he couldn't see through lead. Why be so forthcoming if there was something to hide? Again, Lois felt a bit more of her steadfast faith in the truths she'd lived her life believing in slip a bit further away. Which left the story. The story….Lois tapped her pencil on the desk, to the beat of "Sister Christian" as it played on that endless loop that happened sometimes in her head. Finding out what Superman was really about, how he could fly, why he chose Metropolis over all other cities to protect, how he'd decided to wear blue and red…the story was there, but Lois couldn't put her finger on where to start. Every time she tried, the memory of his eyes, blue, wide and shining with an indefinable purity, stopped her cold, leaving her not wanting to think about much else.
"Hey, Lane…" Perry White's voice carried over the newsroom. "Lex Luthor is making a statement about that robot that went berserk in Luthorcorp Plaza yesterday…how about getting off your keister and getting me a headline for the morning edition?" The nicotine patches were not helping Perry's attitude, Lois observed, hoping that Martha Kent would make a surprise appearance in Metropolis and invite Perry to Clark's for dinner. That would cheer the old newspaperman right up. She shook her head, her hair falling over her shoulders, coffee dark, the summery highlights of her Smallville days long gone. Lex at his most diplomatic and charming was always worth the trip to his press conferences. Seeing Lex eat crow reminded Lois of the days when she wished he'd trip over his expensive loafers on his way out of the Talon.
"Luthorcorp CEO Apologizes to Citizens of Metropolis For Experiment Gone Amok," Lois droned, standing. "That really ought to get old, don't you think, Chief? Someone really ought to find out what Lex is really up to, like why he needs eight foot robots with laser weapons and bullet proof armor plating.…" The chewed pencil rolled out of her hand and across the pictures of Superman, forgotten.
"I'll decide when it's old. Get down there. KENT!" Perry glared around the newsroom. "Where is he now? Taking the man on the street's opinion of the new parking meters?"
"I'll call him, Chief and make him meet me at Luthorcorp." Lois said, shrugging on her jacket and slid her recorder in her bag. "Jimmy will go with me now, get your front page shot."
"Good." Perry ducked inside his office and then bobbed out again. "You okay, Lane? You seem off your game today. Something on your mind?"
"You know, Chief, I…" Lois began and then thought better of it, holding up her hands. "Nope, I'm good. I'll just go off to Luthorcorp now…"
Perry nodded. "Good. I wasn't up for a Hallmark moment anyway. Go get my story." He ran a hand over his right bicep and looked at Lois sharply. "And, if you dare hand it in with that monster of a headline, I'll make you cover the opening of the circus next week." The editor disappeared into his office, the blinds on the glass door clattering in his wake.
"Yeah, yeah..." Lois waved, walking toward the doors of the news room, Jimmy falling into step with her as she dialed Clark. "Hey, Smallville, it's show time at Luthorcorp…again." She hung up, seeing Clark in her mind briefly, that same infuriating small town guy, awkward in the stylish suits he'd adopted for work, his eyes the same Caribbean green-blue they'd always been, peering out thoughtfully from behind his glasses, glasses he'd only recently needed. A slight shiver of instinct, a hint of recognition flared in her mind and vanished again, leaving Lois vaguely annoyed. There was no grey area about Clark Kent, Lois thought, as she and Jimmy got on the elevator, not at all.